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So my friend and associate Don Lessem wrangled yet another paleo-themed
NOVA. God the man never ceases to amaze me with his ability to generate
dinosaur work for himself. Hats off to you Don.
This time he and the NOVA episode tackled commercial fossil dealing - -
expressly Peter Larson's ill fated association with the lady Sue. And I
have to tell you, it was a little sad to watch.
My problem is, as a writer and friend to paleo, I like the people on
both sides of the fence. I've had people tell me Pete Larson would sell
his own grandmother for a dollar. But I don't believe it. I know and
like the man very, very much. I also know and respect Vince Santucci. I
know how sincere and well intentioned his actions really are. The
checks and balances go on and on and on.
But, for me, it comes down to this - - I have been on digs, seen
fossils crumbling to dust because acadamia didn't have the time nor the
funding to excavate. I think THAT is the real crime...that fossils are
being lost to erosion while we all quibble over who deserves to be
governmentally endowed with the rights to collect.
I know science needs first dibs at anything important. I support that
1000% (and lest me forget, Pete Larson is a degreed paleontologist). But
when I dug with the University of Wisconsin on federal lands in Montana,
I couldn't even pick up a tiny piece of float. Scraps that would have
helped me educate hundreds of elementary school children, is now dust
washed down into some badlands ravine, because I couldn't gather it up.
I admit, as I studied those little bits and pieces at my feet, I kept
thinking of Pete. I kept wondering where was the voice of moderation?
Granted, Sue was a lot more than a floater. But if the BHI hadn't
stumbled across that outcropping, Sue the lady rex might never have been
discovered in the first place.
It's incredibly sad to me. Imagine what paleontology could have done
with the money S.D. and the feds spent prosecuting Pete. Think of what
science could do with the money Maurice Williams will pocket, thanks to
Sotherby's. Sometimes, life's a bitch...even after you die.
sigh. tomorrow is another day.